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Posted on August 14th, 2014 (11:00 am) by Andy Belt

The unassuming FKA twigs (Thaliah Barnett) surfaced in late 2012 with a series of EP’s, matter-of-factly entitled EP1 and EP2. Barnett continues this trend with her understated debut, LP1, but Barnett’s work is anything but simplistic. Placing a genre label on this album proves to be a Sisyphean task. When you’ve got her all figured out, there’s a new twist that throws you back to square one. Some might view this as experimental R&B, or simply classify this as pop, but neither brand does all of the album’s delicate intricacies justice.

FKA twigs’ music is covert and she never shows her hand too soon. Doubling as the album’s main producer, she crafts the tense atmospheres and moods to not only suit her voice, but her guarded lyrics as well. The beauty in these tracks unfolds slowly and inches up quietly, not all at once. Take the gorgeous “Pendulum,” perhaps the finest offering here. What begins with only rattling drums and wounded Barnett vocals evolves into a lush and transfixing song as the brooding synths come out of hiding to underscore the singer’s melancholy. Or is she hopelessly in love? Barnett continually blurs the lines between these emotions, refusing to mark clear boundaries.

The warped, haunted soundscapes sometimes verge on falling apart or imploding entirely like on spite-filled “Video Girl” and “Numbers,” but it’s the breathy vocals from Barnett that center all of the commotion surrounding her. Instead of being consumed, FKA twigs levitates gracefully above the stark, ominous synths and jump-cut drum machines sputtering below.

For songs about love and romance, FKA twigs often sounds isolated and troubled, as if she’s watching everything from a carefully calculated distance. “When I trust you/ We can do it with the lights on,” she promises in “Lights On,” but hesitation still lingers behind her voice. Revealing more of herself (emotionally and physically) sounds like it could be the death of her. Within the lyrics, Barnett places a strong emphasis on the body both for overtly sexual and spiritual purposes. A line such as, “Suck me up/ I’m healing for all the shit you’re dealing,” finds the singer playing the martyr, helping her significant other find release in their bedroom, but she also gains equal pleasure from this rendezvous.

Never content to adhere to the conventions of any particular genre, Barnett’s daring LP1 is easily one of the most engaging records of 2014 thus far. The album rewards those who can wade through the dense layers at play to discover all that lies below its surface. The singer makes it impossible to look away from these deeply intimate tracks, but by the record’s conclusion, we’re still no closer to unraveling the riddle that is FKA twigs.

Track List:

  1. Preface
  2. Lights On
  3. Two Weeks
  4. Hours
  5. Pendulum
  6. Video Girl
  7. Numbers
  8. Closer
  9. Give Up
  10. Kicks
FKA twigs: LP1
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

84 / 100
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